Edged by a thread of unbroken beach line, the Kerala’s heart is composed of intensely green paddy fields and a unique network of rivers and lagoons. Upland Kerala, relatively little visited, is composed of hills thickly wooded with teak and rubber. Trivandrum which is also the state capital has an exceptionally fine museum set in an amusement park. Kovalam, one of the most popular beaches in the country. Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple in Trivandrum, and Padmanabhapuram Palace are important monuments. Cochin has been Kerala’s center of maritime trade for innumerable centuries. Jew town, complete with an immaculately preserved synagogue, has a flavor all its own, while Tripunathura, at the other end of the city, has many traditional houses with central courtyards. Kerala’s multitude of faiths – Islam, Judaism, and a host of sects of Christianity and Hinduism – all coexist harmoniously. Kerala’s traditions of dance forms, which originated from temple worship, can be witnessed at regularly held performances. A five hour drive from Cochin leads into thickly forested hills, past rubber and spice plantations, and into southern India’s tea growing district headquartered at the charmingly old world Munnar.From Kottayam to Alleppey is a world of palm fringed waterways, a route which is covered by motor launch. Elderly sailboats, long barges transporting tons of coconuts and tiny skiffs used to transport children to school are common sights on these backwaters.